≡ Menu

Part 3 How does atheism explain the problem of evil?

All worldviews must give answers to the problem of evil.  I will begin with atheism.

Atheism is the belief that God doesn’t exist.  The vast majority of their arguments are attacks on other beliefs and not a positive case based on the evidence for atheism.  I don’t normally hear atheists say this is why atheism is true.  The foundation of their viewpoint seems to be based on their perceived weaknesses of alternative worldviews.   The issue of evil is one of their main points of attack.

Currently, we have a group of individuals who go by the name of the “New Atheists.”  The primary players are Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins.  They have authored books and articles viciously attacking other belief systems.  What makes them “new” are their attitudes; abusive and abrasive, many times resorting to name calling rather than arguments.  Christopher Hitches titled one of his chapters in his book “Religion Kills.”  Richard Dawkins chose to name a chapter in his book “Childhood, Abuse, and the Escaped from Religion.”  Their main point is religion is a dangerous viewpoint.

“If everything was designed,” Hitchens asks, “what are we to make of the designer who has subjected so many generations to barbarism, misery, ignorance, slavery, and early death?”  The new atheists believe the problem of evil makes belief in God a fairy tale and not worthy of serious consideration.

I will begin to test the atheistic position by pointing out the problem of evil is only a problem if evil is real.  When they say something is evil they are making a moral judgment.  All moral judgments need a standard, a moral law and a standard needs a moral law giver.  Any law above man the author needs to be transcendent or above mankind.

Let me illustrate this principle: It would be self-defeating to acknowledge shadows are real, while at the same time denying the possibility of light.  Without light there are no shadows.  In the same way you cannot point to a transcendent moral law, one that stands above and judges all mankind, and at the same time deny the existence of a moral law giver (in this case God).

Speaker and author Greg Koukl says this, “Note that concepts like ‘evil’ and ‘tragic’ are parasitic on moral perfections.  Remember shadows only exist in the light, evil is spoiled goodness; it only exists when there is moral goodness.  We already know this.  Note the words we use to describe it: unrighteousness, immorality, impurity.  Evil depends on the good.”[1]

Car rust does not exist outside of a car.  No car; no rust.  What would you think if I said I saw a glob of tooth decay in my garage?  You’d think I’m nuts; tooth decay only exists on teeth.  No teeth; no tooth decay.  Just like tooth decay is real and is a parasite of a healthy tooth, evil only exists if real good exists; no good, no evil. Evil is simply good gone bad and the atheist must answer where good comes from.  This is a major problem!

Christopher Hitchens wants to point to misery, slavery, and death as tragic but if God doesn’t exist, then nothing evil that happens is tragic or wicked.  Tragedy and wickedness only have meaning if ultimate goodness exists.  If man sets the standard for good, then it can be changed, altered, or rewritten at any time and any place.  This means the group in power gets to set the standard for goodness; in other words, “Might Makes Right.”  Therefore, under man’s rule we can never have ultimate or absolute goodness, it will always be relative to who is in power.  Ultimate goodness can only exist if the standard is above man, and the only way it can be above is to have a moral law giver.If there is no ultimate goodness there is no evil.

In the movie the Quarrel, main characters Hersh and Chiam, were boyhood friends.  They become separated over a dispute over God and evil.  Then the Holocaust happens and they both thought each other had perished.  Finally, after the war they are reunited and once again bring up their boyhood quarrel over evil.

Hersh, now a rabbi, challenges his friend by saying,

“If there is nothing in the universe that’s higher than human beings, then what’s morality?  Well, it’s a matter of opinion.  I like milk; you like meat.  Hitler likes to kill people; I like to save them.  Who’s to say which is better?  Do you begin to see the horror of this? If there is no Master of the universe, then who’s to say that Hitler did anything wrong? If there is no God, then the people that murdered your wife and kids did nothing wrong[2].”

Do you see where this is the natural outcome of atheism?  Who’s to say what Hitler did was wrong?  If you are an atheist you may say you don’t like it but you cannot say it was wrong. For the atheist morality is all a matter of opinion and the group in power gets to decide what is ultimately right or wrong for their people.

This was the actual defense for the Nazi war criminals.  They said who are you to judge us?  Who are you to say what is right and wrong?  Who are you to say killing Jews is wrong, if it was right for us?  Fortunately, the court appealed to a law above man and ruled them responsible for the death of millions of Jews.  As an Atheist you should be appalled the court ruled against the Nazi’s and violated their rights by saying what they did was wrong.  In your belief system there is no ultimate right or wrong.

Now what I’ve just put forward has nothing to do with whether or not an atheist can be a moral upstanding individual.  An atheist can be as moral as anyone.  The issue is whether or not they can make sense of their moral rules; whether they can call anything virtuous or evil.

Bottom line is the atheist worldview cannot account for evil or good.  Morality is determined by “Might Makes Right” and can be changed at any time.  Today rape is evil tomorrow; if society changes, it may be determined as good and healthy.  Courage is good, tomorrow it is wrong.  Without God it is impossible to define evil or good.  The actuality of evil actually supports the existence of God.  Real evil can only exist if a real God, who sets the standard, exists.  NO GOD…NO EVIL.  Atheism has no real answers to the problem of evil.

Go to Part 4 here


[1] Koukl, Greg, Solid Ground “Answering the New Atheists III,” Stand to Reason, Sept./Oct. 2008

[2] Ibid p. 7

Enhanced by Zemanta
{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Adi May 18, 2011, 7:32 am

    “Atheism is the belief that God doesn’t exist. The vast majority of their arguments are attacks on other beliefs and not a positive case based on the evidence for atheism. I don’t normally hear atheists say this is why atheism is true.”

    What??? I think that you must first learn what atheism is before giving a definition. First of all, in most cases, it is not a belief, but a lack of beliefs. Most atheist don´t “just belief that God doesn’t exist”, instead, we see no evidence of such entity, and we can conclude that it is highly probable that it does not exist.

    Of course there is no evidence for atheism! It is impossible to demonstrate that something does not exist! We don’t have to tell you why atheism is true. You say that gods exist, you have to prove it. We don’t say that gods does not exist, but that you have NOT proved their existence conclusively, therefore, the existence of gods is still just an hypothesis. The burden of proof is on your side!

    in any case you are right in something “there is no ultimate right or wrong”. If someone enjoy killing people, no matter that you or the rest of the world think, it is going be good for him to kill! Sad? yes, Perturber? of course!, but is the true. If someone kills my family, of course I will think that is evil, that is wrong, and for sure I,ll not going to say “well, shit happens, who are I to judge him” (although Christians must, as only their god can judge!) but, again, the murderer could had enjoy every moment, making it good for him.

    Open your eyes… this is how the world works. if there was no one getting a benefit for killing people, then there will be nobody killing people. No god = no god; Evil = for whom?

  • Steve May 21, 2011, 1:55 am

    Adi,
    Again thanks for writing. You said this, “I think that you must first learn what atheism is before giving a definition. First of all, in most cases, it is not a belief, but a lack of beliefs.”

    You write atheism is a “lack of beliefs.” My dog has a lack of belief in God; is he an atheist? Babies lack a belief in God; are they atheists? I saw a spider crawl by my desk this morning; is he or she an atheist? With your definition atheism is no longer a view; it is a psychological state which is shared by people who hold various views or no view at all. Is this really the definition of atheism?

    The word atheism means a = no and theism = god. Therefore, I am justified in defining atheism as the belief God doesn’t exist. This is the classic definition. Recently, many atheists have attempted to get out from under any burden of proof by redefining atheism to a lack of beliefs. However, we have a word for that belief; it is called agnosticism (a = no and Gnosticism = knowledge).

    William Lane Craig wrote the following to a person who asked about individuals who assert their definition of atheism as a lack of belief in God.

    “One would still require justification in order to know either that God exists or that He does not exist, which is the question we’re really interested in. So why, you might wonder, would atheists be anxious to so trivialize their position? Here I agree with you that a deceptive game is being played by many atheists. If atheism is taken to be a view, namely the view that there is no God, then atheists must shoulder their share of the burden of proof to support this view. But many atheists admit freely that they cannot sustain such a burden of proof. So they try to shirk their epistemic responsibility by re-defining atheism so that it is no longer a view but just a psychological condition which as such makes no assertions. They are really closet agnostics who want to claim the mantle of atheism without shouldering its responsibilities. This is disingenuous and still leaves us asking, ‘So is there a God or not?’”

    Craig, a noted scholar, philosopher, theologian, and debater, properly places the burden of proof for the existence of God on the atheist and the Christian. I am willing to defend my beliefs. Are you willing to defend yours or do you just want to rest on a psychological condition you define as atheism?

    Are you really going to say you believe in a worldview with no evidence? I need evidence to hold a belief. This is why I don’t have enough blind faith to be an atheist. Since you have reduced atheism to a psychological condition, are you ready to admit you are an agnostic?

  • Adi May 23, 2011, 1:18 am

    First of all, knowledge and belief are not the same. As you correctly point agnosticism deals with knowledge. I’m actually agnostic in more fields than you can imagine (as well as a skeptic, that is also not the same).

    Are your dog, the spiders, the babies atheists? well, in fact yes. They live their life without considering any god. Atheism is not even structured in the strict meaning of the word; We have no rites, no dogmas, no churches, no guidance, no holy books, etc, thus if “it is a psychological state which is shared by people who hold various views or no view at all.” it’s almost true. I don´t know what you exactly mean with psychological state…

    “…means a = no and theism = god. Therefore, I am justified in defining atheism as the belief God doesn’t exist.”

    No, you are not. It means that we live our lives without taking into account the existence of a god, (whatever the reason you want). As you have stated, the root “a” just mean no, without. It does not imply beliefs. Have you ever heard the terms aUFOist, aghostist, abigbangist, aevolutionist, acreationist, abudist, ashivaist? or, do you thing that an “anaerobic bacteria” are the ones that does believe that there is no oxigen? or that an “amnesic person” is the one that does believe there is no memories at all?

    “However, we have a word for that belief; it is called agnosticism (a = no and Gnosticism = knowledge).”

    Wait! you just told me that the root “a” imply belief! Therefore, I am justified in defining agnosticism as the belief knowledge doesn’t exist, right? then, no, I’m not an agnostic after all.

    “namely the view that there is no God, then atheists must shoulder their share of the burden of proof to support this view. But many atheists admit freely that they cannot sustain such a burden of proof. ”

    Three simple questions. I have an invisible almighty dragon in my garage. Do you believe me? if the answer is no, then you are an adracuists (as many people I know that have answer “no” to the question, so you must share the same beliefs!) now, Would you be so kind to justify your position? or you are just agnostic about dragons?

    “They are really closet agnostics”

    Well, again, no. I believe in knowledge, and then, according to your definition of the root “a”, I’m not agnostic anymore.

    “So is there a God or not?”

    I don’t know. You tell me, and if the answer is yes, prove it. In the meanwhile, I will not put him in the equation, as the system seems to work pretty good (or bad, depending on who you ask) without gods. (so, no god; so a-theos… Simple isn’t it?)

    “I am willing to defend my beliefs. Are you willing to defend yours..?”

    Yes, of course! But only if you are willing to defend your adracuism too, just to compare our points of view, you know…

    “I need evidence to hold a belief.”

    Me too! we are progressing…

    “This is why I don’t have enough blind faith to be an atheist”

    eh? no, no, no, no! I don’t know if you have noted but… you are an atheist too! I bet that you don’t believe in Zeus, Thor, Tlaloc, Shiva, Osiris, Allah, Brahma, Odin, and some others, and that you live your life as if they don’t exist…

    “are you ready to admit you are an agnostic?”

    In the right definition, yes, I’m agnostic (about UFO’s, ghosts, gods…). In the religion field I’m an agnostic atheist, as I don’t know if there is a god, but due the lack of evidence, I consider that the possibility is so low that I can live as if there is no gods.

    With your definition of the root “a” (“The word atheism means a = no and theism = god. Therefore, I am justified in defining atheism as the belief God doesn’t exist.”), again, no because I believe that knowledge does exist.

    Now, Are you really going to say you believe in a worldview with no evidence? I need evidence to hold a belief. This is why I don’t have enough blind faith to be an adracuist. And guessing what are you going to answer about my dragon, Are you ready to admit you are an agnostic (about dragons)?

  • Steve May 23, 2011, 10:21 am

    Adi,
    Repeatedly you have said belief and knowledge are not the same. What is your definition of belief? What is your definition of knowledge? If you could, please explain how belief and knowledge are similar or how they are unrelated terms.

    Steve

  • Adi May 23, 2011, 11:37 pm

    Think of them as

    Belief = Hypothesis

    Knowledge = Theory or Law

    Belief can be turn to knowledge if it can be proved to be true for the selected reference frame. However, if it can not be granted as true, it can be rejected without disturbing the system.

    A belief that is false or can not be proved to be true is not knowledge.

    I have answer a lot of your questions, now please answer these:

    Do you belief that my dragon does not exist?
    Do you know my dragon does not exist?
    Don’t you believe in my dragon?

  • Steve May 24, 2011, 9:27 pm

    Adi,
    I could say more about belief and knowledge but I won’t just yet. You never pointed out where I seemed to be confused about knowledge and belief. Where do you think I mixed these terms?

    Steve

  • Adi May 24, 2011, 10:53 pm

    I did not. But you seems to thing that atheism and agnosticism are mutually exclusive. Atheism and agnosticism are not a dichotomy. I’m agnostic because I don´t know if gods exist (same with UFO’s ghosts and a long etc.), and because of that I’m an atheist, because I don´t believe in or consider them (I guess I’m an aUFOist and an aghostist too).

    However, your definition of atheism is wrong. you defined

    “The word atheism means a = no and theism = god. Therefore, I am justified in defining atheism as the belief God doesn’t exist”

    which I’m not, but the prefix “a” seems to imply belief:

    The word agnosticism means a = no and gnosis = knowledge. Therefore, I am justified in defining agnosticism as the belief knowledge doesn’t exist.

    which I’m not either.

    Now, If it please you, would you mind to answer the questions about my invisible almighty dragon, just as a courtesy? I think that if you answer them, you will clearly understand what atheism is.

    Do you belief that my dragon does not exist?
    Do you know my dragon does not exist?
    Don’t you believe in my dragon?

  • Steve May 28, 2011, 10:37 pm

    Adi,
    First your accusation I was confusing belief and knowledge was a red herring; you just didn’t like my definitions. I will utilize an accepted resource in the field of philosophy to state key definitions that will help in our discussion. It is called The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy.

    Belief is a dispositional psychological state in virtue of which a person will assent to a proposition under certain circumstances. Propositional knowledge, traditionally understood, entails belief.

    Knowledge is justified true belief. (This simplified definition I got from http://www.str.org. The definition in the dictionary was too complicated and long to reproduce here.)

    Atheism (from Greek a – ‘not’, and theos, ‘god’), the view that there are no gods. A widely used sense denotes merely not believing in God and is consistent with agnosticism. A stricter sense denotes a belief that there is no God; this has become the standard one.

    Agnosticism (from Greek a- ‘not’, and gnastos, known), term invented by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869 to denote the philosophical and religious attitude of those who claim that metaphysical ideas can be neither proved nor disproved. Agnosticism is a form of skepticism applied to metaphysics, especially theism.

    Even though you didn’t like my definition of atheism, it is the standard definition. For now I am comfortable with agnosticism being skeptical of theism.

    The point is we both share the burden of proof for the defense of our belief systems. I have the burden to defending the Christian worldview. You have the burden of defending your agnostic/atheistic beliefs.

    Now I will work on the task of task of disproving the existence of your invisible dragon in your garage. I will use the Christian worldview to demonstrate your dragon doesn’t exist. My conclusion could be proved wrong if you have stronger evidence, so after I make my case I will await your evidence.

    The Christian worldview says God is the source of logic, the uniformity of nature, and morality. I will utilize logic, science, and morality to make my case.

    According to the Bible I am made in the image of God therefore, I have the following abilities or skills:
    • Consciousness – I have a mind that is distinct from my material brain. My mind works with the brain in a similar fashion a driver operates a motor vehicle. The driver is not the vehicle. But there is a needed dependency here on earth.
    • Reasoning – I have been given the ability to use logic to examine evidence in order to make my case.
    • Free will to make choices between good ideas and bad.

    What are my conclusions based on my worldview? Using my God given abilities I discover there is no evidence for your invisible dragon. As I read the medieval literature dragons were myths created by authors; we have no evidence for their existence historically. God created everything and we have no Biblical record of Him creating invisible dragons. Therefore, according to the Christian worldview there are no invisible dragons.

    Now back to you and your burden of proof. You have a twofold problem. First, you have to provide evidence for your invisible dragon and second, you have to show the atheistic worldview can even make a case.

    The first problem is simple and straightforward; show me your evidence. The second problem entails showing that atheism can account for the following:
    • Where do the laws of logic and rationality come from?
    • Where does free will come from so that you could reason there is no God?
    • How can you account for the uniformity of nature to use science as a proof against the existence of God?
    • Where does morality come from? If morality if manmade then lying about the evidence could be a good thing (back to our other discussion).

    My entire web site, The Biblical Worldview Academy, is the defense for the existence of God and the Christian worldview. I have provided proof for my belief system. Your burden of proof involves 1) justifying atheism as a true belief system, and 2) refuting my evidence.

    One more thing…you cannot borrow from my worldview. As you come up with your abilities to do certain functions, they cannot be skills and abilities from God (while at the same time denying God). You have to provide the foundations of free will, consciousness, laws of logic, morality, uniformity of nature from atheism and not theism. Good luck!

    Steve

  • Adi May 30, 2011, 4:34 am

    “First your accusation I was confusing belief and knowledge…”

    I never make such accusation. In fact, In my last post, In the first paragraph I told you I did not consider that you are confusing the terms but that you seems to think that not-know and not-belief are mutually exclusive. Please read it again.

    “A widely used sense…”

    This means that a dictionary rules how I have to live my life?. Atheism is a word that should not even exist, or, can you tell me what your dictionary said about the words aghostism, aUFOism, ashivaism, azeusism, atlalocism…? I dare to guess that you practice all of this “belief systems” and many more. Atheism is just a word, and it means whatever men want it to means, not how I see the world.

    If we are arguing not about our view points, but the meaning of words, then we may go to a linguistic blog. I thing I have already explained my (and many atheists) worldview. You can call me whatever you want, heretic, nonbelieverist, agnostic, even infidel dog, if the name is so important to you. That does not change the fact that I’m not making a positive claim, but that I just don’t believe in yours! What it is important to separate is what I don’t KNOW and what I don’t BELIEVE. (I don’t know for sure where logical laws came from and maybe I will never know, but I don’t believe that a god has to do with it. Why not? because your proofs try to force me to pre-accept the existence of gods. That’s a no-way for me)

    “…A stricter sense denotes a belief that there is no God; this has become the standard one.”

    Unfortunately, I guess it is going to be hard for you to find atheists that fit in this last denotation, although there are some; I don’t like to generalize: there are some atheists with whom even I disagree. However, almost all of us just don’t believe in gods (no matter what the men made dictionary says. When the word had a photo of me in the book, well…)

    “The point is we both share the burden of proof for the defense of our belief systems”

    No we not. I not making any positive claim. I just don’t believe in your claim, but I’m not saying that I believe it is false (they may be true indeed, you just have to prove it to me)

    “…Christian worldview to demonstrate your dragon doesn’t exist…”

    Well, to do that , first we both should agree that your god exist, to be in the same field, since all your arguments presume the pre-existence of gods; but they are using what they are meaning to prove, thus you are creating a circular reasoning. (My god is perfect, therefore he is the source of logic, therefore, there is a god). Unfortunately we both don’t agree that gods exist…

    “…The Christian worldview says God is the source of logic…”

    In your demonstration, change the word god, for dragon. In the end, it is going to be your word vs mine (childish, but true). If we ask to a third, we are converting “our beliefs” in a popularity contest.

    “According to the Bible…”

    I don’t consider the Bible an authority. I can not accept it as an evidence. (many reasons to list here, but the principal is: If I don’t believe in god, how can I believe that the Bible is his word? Just because you said so?)

    “…God created everything and we have no Biblical record of Him creating invisible dragons…”

    Oh! can answer your last question quickly.

    Who created my dragon isn’t a good question. You don’t believe in my dragon, so you don’t believe anyone created my dragon. And I don’t believe in a dragon who was created. So who believes my dragon had to be created? No one! If no one believes this, then why ask the question who created my dragon?

    “…show me your evidence…”

    That is exactly what I’m asking for! But not a series of propositions based on the bible or in philosophy (which has had demonstrate not to be the best tool to know the world by itself). Logic and philosophy alone had been wrong in the past (also science has been wrong, but combining the three, oh, what a powerful, although not infallible, tool we have!)

    “…I have provided proof for my belief system…”

    I’m afraid you are not. You make a set of propositions that you expect I accept as true because you said so. We can present your proofs to a Muslim, a Deist, a Hinduist, a Shintoist, even a Catholic and all of the theist views, and if all of them consider your proofs as valid and true, then I may start to consider that I’m possibly wrong in not believing in your god (although I may still not know for sure if your god exists, therefore I’ll be a Theist agnostic).

    “…First, you have to provide evidence for your invisible dragon…”

    But we have both the burden of the proof! You must also have to provide evidence that supports your belief system (not Christianity, but the other: adracuism, which I am justified in defining as the belief invisible almighty dragons doesn’t exist). As you believe that my dragon does not exist, you must prove your claim! My evidence is the next:

    The draconian worldview says an almighty dragon that lives in my garage is the source of logic, the uniformity of nature, and morality. I will utilize logic, science, and morality to make my case (I will not continue; I guess you get my point)… What are my conclusions based on my worldview? Using my dragon given (by the way, by whom?) abilities I discover there is no evidence for your invisible god.

    “…you cannot borrow from my worldview…they cannot be skills and abilities from God”

    are you assuming that I’m agreeing with you that those abilities came from gods? But they came first from my dragon! (as I already “prove” it). I guess we are not playing “I’m right just because I said so first!”. In that case, “My dragon created your god! and I’m right because I said it first and because you admitted that your god did not created my dragon. And my dragon creates your god in a way that your god seems to be uncreated, but he is not…Your god create everything, but my dragon is above everything”

    I’m not trying to be a jerk here. I just want to make my point, that for us, non believers, your proofs can be used to prove the existence of any “special” creature that we can imagine and give them any property we want. In the end, no one of us will have a convincing proof to make the other said “Ok, you are right, that proves to me that x, and only x, could exists” (and believe me, I’m honest enough to admit that, although I’m a non-believer, I’m an agnostic too; I may start to believe in gods if someone present me a convincing argument)

    “…back to you and your burden of proof…”
    “…Your burden of proof involves 1) justifying atheism as a true belief system, and 2) refuting my evidence.”

    1) how can I justify something that IS NOT something? my view point (call it as you want) is not a belief system… (please answer the questions at the end if you want to understand this)
    2) but, is your evidence falsifiable? The problem is that I don’t see evidence, and I’m not being close minded here. Again, You told me “there is logic, therefore there is a god” why not “there is logic, therefore there is an almighty dragon”? You are trying to force me to accept your word!

    So, If you really want to understand how we non-believers (if you insist that the word atheism implies a positive beliefs) think about gods and how agnosticism is not incompatible with the lack of beliefs, you should answer the questions… I’ll try to make it easier: Choose the answer that best reflects your viewpoint and write it in your next post, and I will give you my commentaries.

    Please just write a) or b) or whatever letter you choose, without elaborating the answer, to keep the criteria as easy as possible. After that, we could continue discussing who has the burden of proof and why, and I will try to provide foundations for what you ask to me.

    Do you believe that my dragon does not exist?
    A) Yes, I do believe that your dragon does not exists
    B) No, I don’t believe that your dragon does not exists

    Do you know that my dragon does not exist?
    A) Yes, I do know that your dragon does not exists
    B) No, I don’t know that your dragon does not exists
    C) No, I don’t know if your dragon does not exists
    D) I do not know if your dragon exists

    Don’t you believe that my dragon exists?
    A) Yes, I do not believe that your dragon exists
    B) No, I do believe that your dragon exists

  • Steve June 8, 2011, 5:04 am

    Adi,
    I was ready to answer your different points until I read your thoughts on philosophy and logic. I said “show me the evidence” and you replied, “That is exactly what I’m asking for! But not a series of propositions based on the bible or in philosophy (which has had demonstrate not to be the best tool to know the world by itself). Logic and philosophy alone had been wrong in the past (also science has been wrong, but combining the three, oh, what a powerful, although not infallible, tool we have!)”

    All of our posts have utilized philosophy and logic. Now you say logic has been wrong in the past and you infer it is not infallible along with science and philosophy. You seem to imply we have to use it because it is what we have to work with.

    I believe logic is transcendent, invariant, and universal. Transcendent means it stands above and is the standard for all rationality. Invariant means it cannot error; the law of non-contradiction is always right; the law of identity is always right; the law of excluded middle is always right. As a standard it cannot be wrong. It is similar to the math problem 2 + 2 is always 4. Finally, universal means it is true for everyone, every time period, and every location in the universe. Based on your above statements you don’t believe this.

    If logic is not transcendent then it has to be either a creation of humans or evolved. If logic is not invariant then as you say, it is subject errors. If logic is not universal then different cultures can come up with their own rules of logic. I am not trying to put words in your mouth, but is this what you believe? I need to know this before I answer your previous email.

    Steve

  • Adi June 8, 2011, 8:49 am

    This is for sure another good debate, so I’ll try to answer quick and without to much detail, because I don’t want to miss the main subject…

    “Based on your above statements you don’t believe this.”

    well, formal logic is not exactly my expertise area. I have limited knowledge about all the strange definitions. But this is what I believe about logic (and of course, I could be wrong in many points!)

    Maybe logic is transcendent, invariant, and universal, but I don’t know for sure. All I can said in that it seems to work with everything the humans know until now, thus, it is a reliable tool. Infallible? well, that is an extreme extrapolation (because it works with everything we know, it will work with everything that exist?)

    “As a standard it cannot be wrong.”

    But maybe is not the tool that fails, but the user. Using logic, the men had arrived to strange conclusions that seems valid for their time (flat earth, geocentrism, bad spirits instead virus, etc.). Why? because logic does not brings new evidence to what we know, but just “reorder” the information. If you premises are false, then the conclusion could be also false, and logic does not provide a method to verify if premises are false or true, but only valid or invalid.

    “2 + 2 is always 4”

    Yes, but that is evident and can be verified by anyone, even by the people that does not know math (or doesn’t believe in it, for the sake of the comparison), but in any case, if they doesn’t understand the concept of 4, I will have to explain it to them. Here is a verification method: “draw a circle on the ground. Put two stones in it. Now put two more. How many stones do you have?” the answer, no matter what you think, know or believe is going to be 4, if you know the concept of 4. You can repeat the experiment independently, and if we don´t start talking about antimatter and such things, it will always work.

    If you make statement such as “gods cannot violate their own nature” No matter what you said, I will never be able to verify if the statement is true or false, unless you have a method to do that. And if you try to prove it with more logic, well, in the end those are only human made definitions that you are just assuming as true and expecting that I take them as true too, but I will not going to do that! . Asserting that something has certain attributes is by no means the same thing as demonstrating it.

    I can easily say something like

    Only gods can fly without help
    I can fly without help
    Therefore I’m a god

    And without further information, you just have to trust my word. The main problem I see in using just just formal logic to try to infer new knowledge, is that we could be starting with false knowledge, therefore, our conclusion could be wrong (as it has happened in the past)

    “…Based on your above statements you don’t believe this.”

    The problem is that I have not a method or a protocol to verify that. I know logic works with the things I already know,and because of that, I can use it with certain confidence, but what about the things I don’t know? I can not be sure.

    We are really always talking about probabilities. If all humans are mortals, and you are human, then you are mortal. This is valid, but are you really human? think about crazy things like you being an alien implanted in your mother with all the characteristics of a human but you are not a real human! The probability of this being true is so low,and the probability of you being mortal is so high that I can granted it as true, but that is because until now, we all can corroborate that almost all humans are mortals (is there humans in other planets? are they mortals?). The statements are valid, the concussion is valid, but, are they true?

    “If logic is not transcendent then it has to be either a creation of humans …”

    And here it is! I will not answer this, because it will start another thread of discussion, and we are talking about the burden of proof in this one.

    Now, I’m sorry but I must insist in this, because it is important:

    Please just write a) or b) or whatever letter you choose, without elaborating the answer, to keep the criteria as easy as possible. After that, we could continue discussing who has the burden of proof and why, and I will try to provide foundations for what you ask to me.

    Do you believe that my dragon does not exist?
    A) Yes, I do believe that your dragon does not exists
    B) No, I don’t believe that your dragon does not exists

    Do you know that my dragon does not exist?
    A) Yes, I do know that your dragon does not exists
    B) No, I don’t know that your dragon does not exists
    C) No, I don’t know if your dragon does not exists
    D) I do not know if your dragon exists

    Don’t you believe that my dragon exists?
    A) Yes, I do not believe that your dragon exists
    B) No, I do believe that your dragon exists

  • Steve June 12, 2011, 10:25 am

    Adi,
    Logic has to be transcendent, invariant, and universal or else I am free to make up my own logic. If that is true, then I assert my own rules of logic and this online debate is over because according to my new rules of logic I WIN! My rules are “might makes right” and since this is my web site I win by force of power. Of course neither of us would agree to something as absurd as that but if logic is not the standard then anything goes.
    You said, “But maybe it is not the tool that fails, but the user.” Absolutely correct! Logic helps us discover bad conclusions, as long as it is used correctly. You showed a few examples of bad thinking in deductive arguments. A deductive argument is an effective tool as long as the form is correct, the definitions are understood and not equivocal, and the premises are true. If these factors are in place then the conclusion has to be believed.
    However, for our discussion for the most part we use inductive arguments, where we gather evidence and reach conclusions based on probability. Inductive arguments are never 100% but still we can arrive at valid conclusions based on the best evidence. This is why we are carrying on this debate; either one of us is wrong or we both are wrong. According to the laws of logic, since we have contradictory viewpoints, we both cannot be right.

    I sense there are some possible problems with your views of belief and knowledge. As I said before knowledge and belief are related. Knowledge is justified true belief. In other words for us to say we know something to be true we have to have evidence for that belief.

    Just for fun I will play your game with the Dragon. My answers are AAA.
    Do you believe that my dragon does not exist?
    A) Yes, I do believe that your dragon does not exists
    Do you know that my dragon does not exist?
    A) Yes, I do know that your dragon does not exist
    Don’t you believe that my dragon exists?
    A) Yes, I do not believe that your dragon exists

    Since I am making a knowledge claim I will repeat what I wrote in a previous post.

    Now I will work on the task of task of disproving the existence of your invisible dragon in your garage. I will use the Christian worldview to demonstrate your dragon doesn’t exist. My conclusion could be proved wrong if you have stronger evidence, so after I make my case I will await your evidence.

    The Christian worldview says God is the source of logic, the uniformity of nature, and morality. I will utilize logic, science, and morality to make my case.

    According to the Bible I am made in the image of God therefore, I have the following abilities or skills:
    – Consciousness – I have a mind that is distinct from my material brain. My mind works with the brain in a similar fashion a driver operates a motor vehicle. The driver is not the vehicle. But there is a needed dependency here on earth.
    – Reasoning – I have been given the ability to use logic to examine evidence in order to make my case.
    – Free will to make choices between good ideas and bad.

    What are my conclusions based on my worldview? Using my God given abilities I discover there is no evidence for your invisible dragon. As I read the medieval literature dragons were myths created by authors; we have no evidence for their existence historically. God created everything and we have no Biblical record of Him creating invisible dragons. Therefore, according to the Christian worldview there are no invisible dragons.

    Now back to you and your burden of proof. You have a twofold problem. First, you have to provide evidence for your invisible dragon and second, you have to show the atheistic/agnostic worldview can even make a case.
    The first problem is simple and straightforward; show me your evidence. The second problem entails showing that atheism can account for the following:
    Where do the laws of logic and rationality come from?
    Where does free will come from so that you could reason if there is no God?
    How can you account for the uniformity of nature to use science as a proof against the existence of God?
    Where does morality come from? If morality if man made then lying about the evidence could be a good thing (back to our other discussion).

    You say, “I don’t consider the Bible an authority. I can not accept it as an evidence. Many reasons to list here, but the principal is: If I don’t believe in god, how can I believe that the Bible is his word? Just because you said so?”

    Everything I have asserted above is argued on my web site. I am not asking you to believe the truth of the Bible because “I said so.” I argued for the Bible elsewhere and you have to refute my arguments. Please read “Is God the Author of the Bible?” I give evidence for my beliefs about the Bible.

    You go on to say, “The problem is that I don’t see evidence, and I’m not being close minded here. Again, You told me ‘there is logic, therefore there is a god’ why not ‘there is logic, therefore there is an almighty dragon’? You are trying to force me to accept your word!”

    I am not trying to force you to accept my word; I am arguing for my viewpoint with evidence. Where did I say, “there is logic, therefore there is a god?” I looked through my posts and I never said that. My entire web site, The Biblical Worldview Academy, is the defense for the existence of God and the Christian worldview. I have provided proof for my belief system. Your job is to read the posted articles on my web site and provide evidence for why I am wrong.

    When I said, “…First, you have to provide evidence for your invisible dragon…” You said, “But we have both the burden of the proof! You must also have to provide evidence that supports your belief system.” I have provided evidence for my belief God exists. Read the articles on my web site (too many to list). Where is your evidence for your invisible dragon?

    Finally, you seem to have contradicted yourself during our online conversation. Above you said we share the burden the proof. However, earlier in our discussion I said this, “The point is we both share the burden of proof for the defense of our belief systems.” You responded, “No we do not. I am not making any positive claim. I just don’t believe in your claim, but I’m not saying that I believe it is false (they may be true indeed, you just have to prove it to me).” Which is it? Do you share a burden of proof or not? Are you positive you are not making a positive claim?

    Steve

  • Adi June 13, 2011, 4:10 pm

    “… then I assert my own rules of logic and this online debate is over because according to my new rules of logic I WIN!…”

    Well, you are trying to do exactly that with your worldview and my dragon: Your worldview, your rules. As my dragon does not fit in your worldview, it simply does not exist. What stop you to do that?

    “…either one of us is wrong or we both are wrong. According to the laws of logic, since we have contradictory viewpoints, we both cannot be right.”

    Ok, but, exactly where could I be wrong? In saying that I don’t believe in gods? You made a claim “Gods exist” and I just say “I don’t believe you. Please prove it.” Is it wrong to ask for evidence?

    “…Inductive arguments are never 100% but still we can arrive at valid conclusions based on the best evidence…”

    Then, you are, as me, just an agnostic, aren’t you? You will never know 100% that there are gods, as I will never know 100% there aren’t.

    “Just for fun I will play your game with the Dragon. My answers are AAA.””

    Ok:
    1) That’s rude! But he exists! You have to justify why you believe he does not!
    2) Are you saying I’m crazy? Because I know he exists! You must prove he does not exist.
    3) Ok, What can I do to change your mind?

    Did you see the difference? No matter how you want to define it, atheism is closer to question 3 than to question 1. Agnosticism deals with question 2. And for question 1, you can justify FOR YOURSELF the inexistence of dragons, by saying anything you are comfortable with inside your worldview, but I doubt it can be considered as evidence outside it. Remember that the evidence must be as 2 + 2 = 4: valid for anyone. If it is valid just for a few people, then there is not a real proof. We are making extraordinary claims, we need extraordinary evidence.

    “Now I will work on the task of task of disproving the existence of your invisible dragon in your garage. I will use the Christian worldview…”

    So, your “evidence” is not valid if I’m not Christian, as I (and many more people in the planet) do not agree with your worldview? What happened with the ‘2 + 2 = 4’? I’m afraid I need to ask for a universal proof that my dragon does not exist. Your evidence must be good for a Muslim or a Shintoist too. You are just justifying yourself to yourself. Like me saying “according to my worldview, atheism must not explain where logic came from because logic just is. You must accept that evidence”

    “My conclusion could be proved wrong if you have stronger evidence, so after I make my case I will await your evidence.”

    Fair enough!

    “The Christian worldview says God is the source of logic, the uniformity of nature, and morality… What are my conclusions based on my worldview? …”

    I’m afraid you have proved nothing outside your worldview. You are just saying something like:

    I define my system as true
    Your system is not compatible with mine
    Therefore, your system is false.

    (Your worldview, your rules) anyone can use that to prove anything. Remember, we need a 2+2=4 that is independent of anyone’s worldview. Can we present your “evidence” to other theistic and non-theistic groups? Do you think they will take it as good?

    “God created everything and we have no Biblical record of Him creating invisible dragons. Therefore, according to the Christian worldview there are no invisible dragons.”

    So, if you cannot find evidence of the existence of a Ferrari in your garage, you conclude that there is not a Ferrari in my garage? As there is no evidence of something in your worldview, then you know it is impossible for it to exist anywhere? As there is no Biblical record of your god creating gravitational forces, they do not exist? (And no, I don’t consider as evidence two dark references that could work to explain super-glue as well)

    “Now back to you and your burden of proof. You have a twofold problem. First, you have to provide evidence for your invisible dragon…”

    Fair enough!

    “…The first problem is simple and straightforward; show me your evidence.”

    Easy, isn’t it?

    “The second problem entails showing that atheism can account for the following:
    Where do the laws of logic and rationality come from? …”

    But, why should I know? I’m not making any assertion that denotes that I know where they came from. The fact is that even if I have no explanations, it does not make yours automatically true! (I don’t know what those lights in the sky are, but that does not make them alien’s spaceships, angels or witches automatically).

    “Your job is to read the posted articles on my web site and provide evidence for why I am wrong.”

    Not really. I’m not here (in this post) to prove your worldview is wrong, but to help you to understand why atheism is not a positive posture as you claim. And in any case, If I want to prove your worldview is, maybe not wrong, but inconclusive, I don´t have to present new evidence, but just to point to the lack of it on your claims. Is it not what many people do with evolution? Instead of present new evidence for alternative mechanisms, they just point to the lack of it on evolution.

    “You said, “But we have both the burden of the proof! You must also have to provide evidence that supports your belief system…The point is we both share the burden of proof for the defense of our belief systems…Which is it? Do you share a burden of proof or not?”

    No contradiction. I’m just using your own words. To be honest, I never think we share the burden of proof about mt dragon. It is my responsibility (as you clearly stated) to provide the evidence for my claims. Asking for the defense of the adraconism is simply ridiculous. I can create an incredible set of attributes that make it impossible to you to demonstrate that it does not exist. In the same way that you cannot prove absolutely that reindeers can’t fly, you just cannot prove that my dragon does not exist, well, not outside your worldview, until now. Try not using gods in your “proofs” so, not just your friends, but even other non-believers can accept your evidence. And saying, “The dragon in your garage does not exist because I can’t find evidence of it in MY garage” is not really a good piece of evidence.

    For questions 1 and 2, your proofs are not valid outside the Christian worldview. I bet that if I can found someone that does not believe either in gods or dragons, he can use the same kind of “evidence” to disprove both systems. (What about the scientologists?) So, in my view, and maybe in the view of many other theists with a different worldview, you are failing in provide support to your claims.

    The problem is that, if your evidence is not independent of your worldview, then it is not universal. The evidence that 2 + 2 = 4 is independent of anyone’s worldview and it is because of that that everyone agrees that it is true. I can easily claim that 2 + 2 4, but if I don´t generate a procedure or a method for anyone who want to test this and reach the same conclusion, independent of the beliefs of the people, then I’m failing in provide a real proof. All your evidence is based on your own worldview, and therefore, people that do not share it and take the same premises as true by definition, could not reach the same conclusions (me, as an example).

    As for question 3, I have nothing to say. Unfortunately I only have a bunch of drawings and books all around the world from different independent cultures and time periods that proves that dragons exist. No conclusive physical evidence. Somehow, I think that it will not be enough to you… in the same way that, I guess, the Quoran is not evidence for you of the existence of the Muslim god. I can do some logical juggles based in a bunch of assumptions and properties that I granted as true by definition, but maybe you don’t. Therefore, it is perfectly valid that you don’t believe in my dragon, until I present strong evidence. This is basically what I thing about gods.

    “Are you positive you are not making a positive claim?”

    Can you tell the difference between “I don’t believe you” and “I believe you are wrong”?

    And about the burden of proof, can you tell the difference between:
    “You are a witch. If you don’t prove absolutely that I’m wrong, we will burn you” and “You are a witch. If I can prove absolutely that I’m right, we will burn you”

  • Steve June 16, 2011, 12:42 pm

    Adi,
    I will refrain from replying to the vast majority of your last response. Part of the problem is it appears we have vast differences in our views of logic, truth, and worldviews. So I will focus on the following paragraph, which seems to sum up what you had to say.

    You said, “The problem is that, if your evidence is not independent of your worldview, then it is not universal. The evidence that 2 + 2 = 4 is independent of anyone’s worldview and it is because of that that everyone agrees that it is true. I can easily claim that 2 + 2 4, but if I don´t generate a procedure or a method for anyone who want to test this and reach the same conclusion, independent of the beliefs of the people, then I’m failing in provide a real proof. All your evidence is based on your own worldview, and therefore, people that do not share it and take the same premises as true by definition, could not reach the same conclusions (me, as an example).” Let me break your statements down and respond.

    “The problem is that, if your evidence is not independent of your worldview, then it is not universal.”

    This is simply false. Your problem is defining what truth is. Truth is sometimes hard to define. When someone asks, what is truth? I ask them, do you know what a lie is? When they reply yes, I tell them truth is the opposite. Truth is the way things really are. Here are a few more descriptors.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one knows it.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one admits it.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one agrees what it is.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one follows it.
    o Truth is true – Even if no one but God grasps it fully (if God exists).

    Let me give you an example. Let’s say I believe the earth is flat and you believe its square. Does our belief change the truth? Does the earth go from being round to being square because of our beliefs? Let’s test these beliefs with the list. Truth is true even if both of us don’t know its round. It’s true even if neither of us will admit we are wrong. If the entire world believes the earth is flat or square that doesn’t alter the fact the earth is round and it’s still true even if only God knows it. Bottom line, truth matches reality. Truth cannot be changed.

    If my worldview is true and it corresponds to reality, then my evidence will not be independent of my worldview. We select our belief systems or worldviews by how we believe the world really is. Truth is true, even if it is not universally accepted. Truth is true even if only the Christian worldview holds it. For example multiple disciples claimed Jesus is God. All worldviews, other than Christianity, reject this. The Christian worldview is a set of claims that are either true or false. Jesus as God is a truth claim; it is either true or false. Any person holding any worldview can accept or reject that claim. If the claim is true then people who reject it are rejecting a universal truth.

    Next you said, “The evidence that 2 + 2 = 4 is independent of anyone’s worldview and it is because of that that everyone agrees that it is true.”

    If the Christian worldview does correspond to reality, then it contains universals truths. It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone believes it. People don’t create truth! Majority rule doesn’t work with truth. Truth is true even if no one believes it.

    Your reference to logic (2 + 2 = 4) does not become a universal truth because all people accept it; it is universal, transcendent, and invariant apart from human acceptance. If theism is the only belief system that believes this, it is still a universal truth.

    You said, “I can easily claim that 2 + 2 = 4 (logic), but if I don´t generate a procedure or a method for anyone who wants to test this and reach the same conclusion, independent of the beliefs of the people, then I’m failing in provide a real proof. All your evidence is based on your own worldview, and therefore, people that do not share it and take the same premises as true by definition, could not reach the same conclusions (me, as an example).”

    Logic is something that cannot be tested because to test it you have to use logic. It has to be true by definition.

    I will define a worldview from the book by James sire “The Universe Next Door.” A worldview is a set of presuppositions (assumptions which maybe true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently, or inconsistently) about the basic make-up of the world.

    I will argue and provide evidence for my presuppositions. My claims are either true or false; they either correspond with reality or they don’t. I am not asking for anyone to believe it by asking you to accept my worldview; I am asking you to examine what I present and either accept the evidence or reject it. Some issues, such as establishing the attributes of God, have to be established by giving evidence for the Biblical God and defending the truth of Scriptures. Again I will not ask anyone to accept what I believe by “blind faith” but on the basis of reasoning to the best explanation. Adi if you are asking for absolute certainty then no one can provide that. But neither can you. We all select our beliefs based on the best evidence or as I said previously, we reason to the best explanation.

    Our ongoing online discussion seems to be all over the place and for us to continue I would like to simplify things. If you are not willing to do what propose, then our conversation can end here. I have enjoyed the interaction but we got off onto too many rabbit trails. If we are going to go on, we need to present our best case to answer some important questions concerning the universe we live in.
    Everyone has a worldview, whether they are aware of it or not. I am going to ask you to defend your worldview. We will both present our best evidence for what we believe to be true. The idea is for us to reason to the best explanation.

    Here is my question: Did the universe have a beginning or no beginning?

    If you don’t like my question, then propose another one. My web site is designed to present issues and answer questions from the Biblical Worldview (Hence the title Biblical Worldview Academy). I welcome responders to comment in agreement with what I write or to disagree. In order to have a discussion each side has to present their best arguments for what they believe.

    Talking about who God is or even if He exists are some of the most important topics we can discuss. My hope is you will want to continue and are willing to defend your beliefs. If instead you would prefer to hide behind your skepticism then our discussion ends here. There has to be an openness to argue and there is no argument unless two views come to the table. I await your reply.

  • Adi July 4, 2011, 2:06 pm

    It seems that the site was down for a time, or at least, I was not able to access the posts, but here I am…

    Ok, before I get into your last question, let me answer some points:

    “Truth is true even if only the Christian worldview holds it”

    As well as truth is true even if christian worldview does NOT holds it. How can I test it?. This is the main problem I have with theist people. All of you tell me that you have the only and real truth, even when it is opposite to other theistic views, but no one provides me real evidence I can test to know how you get your conclusions.

    “…Bottom line, truth matches reality. Truth cannot be changed.”

    But the way we understand reality could be wrong. The earth was flat indeed, until somebody elaborate a procedure to demonstrate it was not. The earth is not flat, ok, that is a universal truth, but it requires no faith or beliefs to be verified. Anyone can do it, even if you want to believe otherwise.

    “If the Christian worldview does correspond to reality, then it contains universals truths…”

    As any worldview. This is not exclusive of Christianity.

    “… 2+2=4… Majority rule doesn’t work with truth”

    Is not what I’m saying. I’m saying that anyone can verify that independent of his/her worldview. And I´m pretty sure that everyone will agree that it is true, not that it is true because everyone agree it.

    “…no one can provide that. But neither can you.”

    I agree and I never said otherwise. I have no problem in you believing whatever you want. My problem is that you are pretty sure that because I don’t believe in what you say, I have an inconsistent beliefs system. That is absolute false! My beliefs system does not take in account gods or they nonexistence! That is I do not believe that gods does exist or not exist: I just don´t believe in gods.

    My worldview can be explained with natural causes without divine intervention. Can I defend it? well, not to the point of no doubt for sure. To do that I will have to spend my whole life studying many scientific fields, and even in that case, I will never going to be an expert in more than two or three… But I’m pretty sure that if I want to test any of the laws and theories that science affirms rule the universe, I can do it, as the procedures are well documented and deemed as true until new information change it.

    “Did the universe have a beginning or no beginning? ”

    what are you trying to prove with this? This question is really tricky for both of us. I’m sure, no matter what you answer to that, you have no real way to prove it, only assumptions.

    My answer is I don’t know. I’m not an expert and I can not make an educated guess. Even scientists that are really experts have not reached an agreement. I have read theories about the big bang as an isolated and unique event, but I have also read theories about a cyclic universe. What almost everyone agree is that the universe is expanding, and that we could have a very good explanation of its developing to near the Planck time. What happened before that, is still uncertain and any explanation is just speculation.

    “…If instead you would prefer to hide behind your skepticism then our discussion ends here”

    If a honest answer is skepticism or not is up to you….

    “…In order to have a discussion each side has to present their best arguments for what they believe. ”

    Well, I’m not really against Christianity. My family is Catholic (and of course, they thing they have the truth). Why I’m having this conversation with you is because you seems to have a very wrong idea of how Atheists think. I think you are misinforming the honest people how want to believe in gods. You maybe will be closest to true if you said something like “Atheists does not believe in gods for many reasons like an alleged lack of evidence. The evidence that we present is this one, but unfortunately, can not be tested outside our worldview and without faith. It is up to us to present evidence that the can not reject and they can verify even if they don´t believe in gods. We don’t need the evidence for US, because, even without it, we believe”

    “My hope is you will want to continue and are willing to defend your beliefs”

    Do you want me to defend that I believe that I don´t believe in gods? otherwise, I’m afraid that you first have to clarify me what I believe. As I have stated several times all this is not about what I believe, but what I DON’T believe.

    “…There has to be an openness to argue and there is no argument unless two views come to the table.”

    I’m a mechanical engineer. When I propose a solution to a problem, I don’t expect that the client presents new solutions to that problem as well (hey! that is my job), but I expect I can defend my solution in a way he can accept it as valid. The views will be, my solution and me defending it, and the client just asking and evaluating the quality of the answers and procedures based on the information I’m presenting and his own information. If the client rejects my solution either, or it was wrong and he found the problem on it, or it was right, but I failed in present the evidence for that; (or he is a jerk… I will not deny that there are some). To reject your ideas I don’t have to present new ones, but just to find “holes” in yours. I don’t need and alternative explanation for the origin of the universe to evaluate yours, based in the information I have to the day and the one that you present.

    If you consider that It was enough for both of us, I just want to remark that atheism is not making a positive claim. That was, in my view, the core of this small debate. It is about the difference between the real atheism “I don’t believe in gods” and the false positive atheism “I believe gods does not exist” that should be called antitheist anyway. Although I have to admit that there are some fundamentalists that believe the last, but, fortunately, they are not the majority (every worldview have some of them…)

    If you want to talk about other topics, I’ll be glad to move the debate to the appropriate entry of your blog, to keep an order and avoid to mix many subjects. If not, well, I just want to thank you for the civilized debate, and I hope that we both have learned something new about the different ways of seeing the world… and that we were humble enough to admit that we have not all the answers and we could be wrong (even in the remote case of the existence of a god, maybe you, theists, with our limited human knowledge, could have misunderstood him!)

  • Steve July 16, 2011, 5:56 am

    Adi,
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I would like for a moment to shift gears. In order to continue I’d like to know more about you.

    You can learn a lot about me on the web site. The “About Us” section has some background information. I recently retired from teaching middle school (grades 6th – 8th) physical education. I now have more time to do the things I enjoy, including adding content to the web site.

    I live in Escondido California and have been married for 37 years to a wonderful woman named Peggy. I have 3 grown children and two grandkids. I grew up playing sports, especially baseball, and had zero spiritual interests. I was an atheist for most of my life and turned to Christ at age 33. I am planning on posting a video where I will speak about my spiritual journey. This is on my list of new projects.

    You said you are a mechanical engineer. You say your family is Catholic. In an earlier post you said English was not your first language. What is your first language? I would love to hear more about where you live and additional background information. I hope you don’t mind me asking.

    As far as our carrying on further discussion, I don’t mind continuing as long as we stay on track. Again my goal is to try to keep us on a narrow path and not all over the place. I posed the question, “Did the universe have a beginning or no beginning?”

    You then asked me, “What are you trying to prove with this? This question is really tricky for both of us. I’m sure, no matter what you answer to that, you have no real way to prove it, only assumptions. My answer is I don’t know. I’m not an expert and I cannot make an educated guess. Even scientists that are really experts have not reached an agreement. I have read theories about the big bang as an isolated and unique event, but I have also read theories about a cyclic universe. What almost everyone agrees is that the universe is expanding, and that we could have a very good explanation of its developing to near the Planck time. What happened before that is still uncertain and any explanation is just speculation.”

    You say “you don’t believe in gods” and you want proof for my belief in God. I believe the existence of the universe is step one as evidence for God. That’s where I am going with this question. I wanted to move you through a series of proofs towards belief in God and wondered if you would like to examine my arguments. I can use my series called “Establishing God as the Creator” for many of my points.

    You say “there is no real way to prove it, only assumptions.” Depends on what you mean by “prove it.” From your previous email you said you are not asking for 100% evidence. Did I get that right? What percentage of belief in the evidence would work for you? Does “prove it” mean if you believe something to be true 51% then you believe it?

    I follow the rule when it comes to issues of importance (existence of the universe, does God exist, are morals objective) we must reason to the best explanation. Does that work for you?
    Finally, everyone bets on what will happen after death. In poker it is called being all in; pushing in all your chips on one hand. We are all betting on our beliefs and that when we die we will see if we made the right decision. Everything I’ve told you I believe but some of these topics are difficult and it is possible I could be wrong. However, if I am right then according to Jesus there are some eternal consequences for anyone who does not believe in the Biblical God. Everybody plays because everybody dies; that’s why it is important to discuss spiritual issues. I am all in with Jesus. How about you? What beliefs are you betting on? What would happen if you died tomorrow?

  • Adi July 18, 2011, 6:52 am

    I’m afraid I’ll have to split my answer in two this time, ’cause I’m moving my office to a new building, so I’m a little short of time, but this is a very small bio of me:

    I’m , as I said, Mechanical engineer and M.Sc. in Mechatronics. I’m 34, married, no child. I’m from México, from a (not so, anymore)small city called Queretaro, in the center of the country. My mother and my sister are Catholics, my father was Methodist. I grow up as a middle class catholic, with almost all the rites it involves (I even assisted to a private religious school, devoted to fray Luis de León, from elementary to high) until I was around 17 (in, maybe, 1994), when I start to question almost anything, and religions gave me no satisfactory answers; that and the hypocrisy and contradictions I found when I really started to try to understand religions. I have a small “affair” with Buddhism, but it really does not explain so much; however, even without a god (my first real approach to atheism), I found a lot of ideas that seems better to me than the Jude-Christians, Muslims, etc. However, in the end, Buddhism only teach me that all my actions have a repercussion (to me and others) here in life, that we have only one life and we must live it the best possible, but always respecting other people life. No heaven, no hell.

    Anyway, Buddhism was more a philosophy of life to me than a source of answers. Thanks to a good friend, I started to read scientific journals and books, and although I don’t understand everything, the method the scientist follow, the skepticism with which they work, the “auto-censure” from the science itself seemed to me like the right way to discover and explain things without so much bias.

    I would love to study physics or astronomy, but there is not a lot of work for that here (and I have to admit, I was not so good with maths). I’ve been working as a mechanical designer and analyst for ten years, and I’m searching to start my Ph.D. in a near future.

    Please give me some time to move myself to the new office. I just don’t want that it seems like a lack of interest.

  • Steve July 18, 2011, 11:15 am

    Adi,
    No hurry, take your time. I appreciate your reply and background information. I looked up your city and it seems you are 9-10 hours south of Texas. Queretaro looks to be an interesting city (state) by the description and pictures I found.

    What I find fascinating is that you moved from a religious background (Catholic) to atheism and I moved from an atheist background and now I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The opposite direction of our backgrounds should make for interesting dialogues in the future.

  • Thoranhaxmaul August 22, 2016, 11:18 pm

    “All worldviews must give answers to the problem of evil. I will begin with atheism.

    Atheism is the belief that God doesn’t exist.”

    2 sentences in and you’re already wrong. Not a good sign.

    “The vast majority of their arguments are attacks on other beliefs and not a positive case based on the evidence for atheism.”

    You know the word “Atheism” has a negative prefix, right? The definition of Atheism is “a lack of belief in a god or gods”. It literally means “without God”.

    You know what? I’m got a challenge for you, pick any word with a negative prefix/suffix in it, and tell me what’s so great about nonsmoking or no drinking or whatever without telling me why smoking or drinking or whatever are bad.

    “I don’t normally hear atheists say this is why atheism is true.”

    How can a lack of belief “be true”?

    “The foundation of their viewpoint”

    Logic

    “seems to be based on their perceived weaknesses of alternative worldviews.”

    No it’s logic. Atheism is the CONCLUSION not the starting point of everything else I believe.

    “The issue of evil is one of their main points of attack.”

    I don’t think you’ve been debating this as long as I have, in my experience, about 60% of the time Christians and atheists argue about evolution.

    “Currently, we have a group of individuals who go by the name of the “New Atheists.” The primary players are Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins. They have authored books and articles viciously attacking other belief systems. What makes them “new” are their attitudes; abusive and abrasive, many times resorting to name calling rather than arguments.”

    Name calling? NAME CALLING? Oh no! Heaven forfend! My precious feelings may be hurt! Save me from the name-calling!

    “Christopher Hitches titled one of his chapters in his book “Religion Kills.” Richard Dawkins chose to name a chapter in his book “Childhood, Abuse, and the Escaped from Religion.” Their main point is religion is a dangerous viewpoint.

    “If everything was designed,” Hitchens asks, “what are we to make of the designer who has subjected so many generations to barbarism, misery, ignorance, slavery, and early death?” The new atheists believe the problem of evil makes belief in God a fairy tale and not worthy of serious consideration.”

    Thay’d a bit of a non-sequitur. For one thing, you went directly from “religion causes death” to “religion is not worth thinking about”. How does one lead to the other. Also, that’s the exact oposite of the impression I got from The God Delusion. Richard Dawkins ENCOURAGES questioning religion. In fact, EVERYTHING should be questioned. Yes, everything. Did I stutter? EVERYTHING. Believe only that which stands up to scruitiny.

    You see, Atheists are, first and foremost, skeptics. We’re precisely the kind of assholes that, if you tell us not to question something, we’ll ask a million questions about why you told us not to question it.

    “I will begin to test the atheistic position by pointing out the problem of evil is only a problem if evil is real. When they say something is evil they are making a moral judgment. All moral judgments need a standard, a moral law and a standard needs a moral law giver.”

    Bullshit. All you need is a conscience. Is there any such thing as objective beauty? No. Do you need a king to tell you a girl is pretty? No. What about tasty? Do you need the government to tell you whether chocolate is better than strawberry? No. What about sympathy?

    “Any law above man the author needs to be transcendent or above mankind.”

    Animals have rules, and anyone who breaks those rules gets bitten.

    “Let me illustrate this principle: It would be self-defeating to acknowledge shadows are real, while at the same time denying the possibility of light. Without light there are no shadows. In the same way you cannot point to a transcendent moral law,”

    I’m a humanist. Fuck external sources of morality and anyone who thinks you need one.

    “one that stands above and judges all mankind, and at the same time deny the existence of a moral law giver (in this case God).”

    I’m not following your logic. Why would you “point to a transcendent moral aw” you don’t believe in?

    “Speaker and author Greg Koukl says this,”

    Quoting “experts” only has a point if we give a crap who they are or what they have to say. If they’re an apologist, that is not the case. I garantee, if you say “In the words of (a famous apologists)…” The Atheists will react with either “who?” Or “That idiot? Seriously? You’e quoting that fucktard? The guy who (something stupid they said)”

    “Note that concepts like ‘evil’ and ‘tragic’ are parasitic on moral perfections. Remember shadows only exist in the light, evil is spoiled goodness; it only exists when there is moral goodness. We already know this. Note the words we use to describe it: unrighteousness, immorality, impurity. Evil depends on the good.”[1]”

    I have never heard the word “unrighteousness” before in my life.

    “Car rust does not exist outside of a car. No car; no rust. What would you think if I said I saw a glob of tooth decay in my garage?”

    I’d assume there was a tooth in there

    “You’d think I’m nuts; tooth decay only exists on teeth. No teeth; no tooth decay. Just like tooth decay is real and is a parasite of a healthy tooth, evil only exists if real good exists; no good, no evil. Evil is simply good gone bad and the atheist must answer where good comes from.”

    No we don’t. “Good” and “evil” are abstract concepts.

    “This is a major problem!”

    No it’s not. Abstract concepts are not physical things, they exist inside minds. Therefore, they need no “origin”.

    “Christopher Hitchens wants to point to misery, slavery, and death as tragic”

    Let me guess: your argument is going to be that “This Atheist says *this* is bad, but in my stupid complete misunderstood straw-man of what Atheism is, there is no good and evil. And since the actual Atheist contradicts my straw-man, that’s HIS fault for being “inconsistent” not my fault for being stupid”

    “but if God doesn’t exist, then nothing evil that happens is tragic or wicked.”

    Called it.

    “Tragedy and wickedness only have meaning if ultimate goodness exists.”

    You just said Christopher Hitchens said they were bad.

    “If man sets the standard for good, then it can be changed, altered, or rewritten at any time and any place.”

    And that is how slavery, racism, child abuse etc went out of fashion. It’s called the Moral Zeitgheist. Dawkin’s talks about it a lot. Simply put: the world is gradually becoming nicer. Also more porn. Great, isn’t it?

    “This means the group in power gets to set the standard for goodness;”

    Explain rebels then.

    “in other words, “Might Makes Right.””

    Then explain the hippie movement, Gandhi, occupy Wall Street etc.

    “Therefore, under man’s rule we can never have ultimate or absolute goodness, it will always be relative to who is in power.”

    Then how is the Moral Zeighetst moving away from conservatism towards liberalism? Hell, that’s practically the definition: conservatives want to conserve old fashioned values while Liberals want to liberate themselves from old fashioned values. Hell, Glen Beck uses the word “progressive” as an insult!

    “Ultimate goodness can only exist if the standard is above man,

    And it doesn’t.

    “and the only way it can be above is to have a moral law giver.If there is no ultimate goodness there is no evil.”

    Yes there is. Murder. That’s evil.

    “In the movie the Quarrel, main characters Hersh and Chiam, were boyhood friends. They become separated over a dispute over God and evil. Then the Holocaust happens and they both thought each other had perished. Finally, after the war they are reunited and once again bring up their boyhood quarrel over evil.

    Hersh, now a rabbi, challenges his friend by saying,

    “If there is nothing in the universe that’s higher than human beings, then what’s morality? Well, it’s a matter of opinion. I like milk; you like meat. Hitler likes to kill people; I like to save them. Who’s to say which is better?”

    Ok: this is the weird thing that often happens when theists argue about morality. They end up arguing for and against the same thing at the same time. “Moral relativism is bad” “I’m a humanist” “well you should be a moral relativist” worst of all is when the theist actually defends HITLER and then wonders why we don’t agree that Hitler is good. I mean, if you find yourself saying “there was nothing wrong with what hitter did”, shouldn’t that ALONE be enough for YOU to figure out FOR YOURSELF why we don’t go with that?

    “Do you begin to see the horror of this? If there is no Master of the universe, then who’s to say that Hitler did anything wrong? If there is no God, then the people that murdered your wife and kids did nothing wrong[2].””

    Note that it’s the Rabi saying that, not the Atheist.

    “Do you see where this is the natural outcome of atheism?”

    No, not at all.

    “Who’s to say what Hitler did was wrong?”

    Ok, this is spooky. I just used that as an example of absutely terrible self-defeating things Theists say.

    “If you are an atheist you may say you don’t like it but you cannot say it was wrong.”

    You contradict yourself again. You say “hitter did nothing wrong” is an atheist idea, then you admit we don’t agree with it, then you say we can’t disagree with it. MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

    “For the atheist morality is all a matter of opinion and the group in power gets to decide what is ultimately right or wrong for their people.”

    We are the minority, a lot of Atheists were unfortunately born in theocracies and during the Bush administration many of us openly criticised Bush, so WTF are you talking about?

    “This was the actual defense for the Nazi war criminals. They said who are you to judge us?”

    No, the defence of Nazi war criminals was “we were just following orders!” The defence of Charles I of England was “by what right does this court judge your King?” It has also been used by Soverign Citizens to get out of traffic tickets, and even people like you when we criticize the atrocities of Jehovah in the Bible. And do you know what happens every single time anyone uses it? Nothing. It has never worked once. No one has ever gotten away with anything by questioning the accuser’s right to judge them.

    “Who are you to say what is right and wrong? Who are you to say killing Jews is wrong, if it was right for us?”

    That doesn’t even sound like something a Nazi would say. The Nazis absolutely believed in good and evil. In fact, the Nazis are a good example of the Moral Zeitgheist. The Nazis helped redefine the modern concept of evil. Before WWII, racism was universal. Now it’s evil.

    “Fortunately, the court appealed to a law above man and ruled them responsible for the death of millions of Jews. As an Atheist you should be appalled the court ruled against the Nazi’s and violated their rights by saying what they did was wrong.”

    There it is! Arguing for and against the same thing at the same time. You ACTUALLY just told us we SHOULD side with the Nazis. Not DO, SHOULD. YOU think we SHOULD be ok with Nazis. We are not ok with the Nazis, this displeases you, and you would be more pleased if we sided with the Nazis. You are trying to order us to side with the Nazis. Do I need to elaborate how fucked up that is?

    “In your belief system there is no ultimate right or wrong.”

    You just ordered us to side with the Nazis. Why would we do that?

    “Now what I’ve just put forward has nothing to do with whether or not an atheist can be a moral upstanding individual.”

    No fucking shit. You just told us we SHOULD, not DO, SHOULD side with Nazis.

    “An atheist can be as moral as anyone. The issue is whether or not they can make sense of their moral rules;”

    Bullshit. Good for the sake of good is more than enough. The need to “explain” morals results in… People wondering why Atheists don’t side with the Nazis.

    “whether they can call anything virtuous or evil.”

    We can and do.

    “Bottom line is the atheist worldview cannot account for evil or good.”

    Selfishness and altruism

    “Morality is determined by “Might Makes Right””

    You’ve never argued with Atheists about Bush, have you?

    “and can be changed at any time.”

    Or evolve.

    “Today rape is evil tomorrow; if society changes,”

    Right ladies?

    “it may be determined as good and healthy. Courage is good, tomorrow it is wrong.”

    Bravery is already considdered “stupid” sometimes.

    “Without God it is impossible to define evil or good.”

    Nazis

    “The actuality of evil actually supports the existence of God.”

    You just went on and on and on pointing out that good and evil are relative. NOW, all of a sudden, they’re objective. Which is it?

    “Real evil can only exist if a real God, who sets the standard, exists.”

    Have you even read your own damn book? Almost every story of Jehovah is about him being an asshole. Book of Job: he kills hundreds of people an animals to punish one guy for absolutely nothing! And then he gets mad at Jobe for even asking “why”! If anything, I think the lesson of the book of Job is either “don’t be too religious, be a little naughty or God will kill your family” or “If you know anyone super religious; Run!”

    “NO GOD…NO EVIL.”

    Your God IS evil.

    “Atheism has no real answers to the problem of evil.”

    Religious people. There, that’s where evil comes from.

  • Steve Bruecker August 23, 2016, 1:28 pm

    Dear Thoranhaxmaul (I am uncertain if that is your name),

    You began your letter by making it clear that atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods. You contend you don’t need to defend it.

    Your lack of belief in God only tells me something about you and not about God. If that is the best you have then why did you ramble on and on? This site is designed to have a dialogue with individuals who have a defensible point of view. Since you don’t have one, then our conversation ends here.

    Steve

Leave a Comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

About Us | Statement of Faith | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Site Map
Never Miss an UPDATE Simply Enter Your Best Email 
x